The curious case of writing Indian Civil Services!


Indian Civil Services have always been the most coveted, most followed and most challenging of all opportunities- chased by many enthusiastic, energetic and hard-working young graduates of India. Having said that, the qualifying process of these services have been very unpredictable except the exam format declared by the Constitutional Body conducting them- The UPSC.

While I have been a part of this gallantry examination process myself, I must admit that the effort required to be put in is daunting and not a matter to be even thought about, by a weak heart. It takes  & tests your karma (effort), dharma (priority), yogyata (skill), ekagrata (focus) and kshamata (capacity). If you are some one who has held your head high with a mind without any fear (Courtesey: Shri RabindraNath Tagore) you are already someone who has taken the challenge to either fly or die in this unruly, rough and unpardoning storm. Your participation itself should be highly appreciated.

Now that the prelims for 2017 is already over, I felt like writing a review on the examination paper and predicting an expected cut-off range for those who are in a dilemma of whether to start the Mains preparation or not.

First of all, the paper this year was once again an unpredictable one- breaking all records at once. If you compare this year paper with the papers since the time CSAT was introduced, it is completely asymmetric and out of all bounds- we must admit, you and me don’t have the power, even in our dreams to predict what matters in the prelims.

Earlier there used to be a pattern- prepare from static subjects like Geography, Modern Indian History, Art and Culture, Env and ecology, Polity and economics and you can easily target 35 questions. With the Current Affairs the count could have been  easily pushed to 65-70 questions, if you had a serious preparation backed by multiple revision rounds.This pattern was crushed in 2016 by UPSC when the current affairs took the driving seat as the qualifier subject. Getting a lesson on the importance of Current Affairs, students and Coaching Institutes then started rigorous current affairs preparation via their Test series and materials, but what they all missed was the unpredictability of the Unpredictable Public Services Commission.

Consequently came up, the 2017 prelims and the mishap happened. While the students kept on expecting  the paper to be somewhere moving around the last year’s pivot, it turned out to be afresh and  completely unconventional, once again and failed them miserably. A quick glance at the 2017 paper easily conveys what UPSC expects from its candidates- A real- general- awareness level.

An interesting fact  that must be be taken into consideration here is the rise in the competitive level of candidates, year on year, given the level of easily accessible knowledge database via multiple channels including the internet. UPSC, being aware of this fact has even switched to some value based questions like that of the quantum of Funds in 2017 and MOM mission in 2016 – which was hardly cared about anyone seriously preparing  for UPSC earlier. To be honest there is no end to learning values in the form of data facts and such questions should be left with appreciation.  Questions like Horse and IVC, Kakatiya’s Port, WG extending over states, Trade Disputes Act 1929, Madra Mahajan Sabha, Cabinet form of Govt. and many more are still debabtable. However, what remains constant is the competition. It doesn’t really matter how tough or unconventional the questions were this time because there are scorers well above 130 this time too and there is qualified junta of 2016 batch who have scored well below 90.

Considering all the factors related to the UPSC 2017 PT exams and data collected from the candidates who appeared, the cutoff per my survey is going to be in the 96-103 range for the general candidates with the CSAT paper 2 being a major reason for pulling down the cutoff range. Paper 2 of 2017 was something that surprised many on the quants side because of a majority of time taking calculation based questions. LR questions though easy were quite lengthy eating up more and more time just to go through the provided data. Comprehensions too became tricky because of some paragraphs being too tough and some being too easy. There are many who have scored above average in paper 1 but could not clear paper 2 this time- a good news for those who are scoring in 90s in Paper1 and have scored above 33% in paper2.

Altogether, if you have a serious likeness about the services, the score in PT should hardly matter and you should start preparing for the Mains exam at full gear as this preparation will help you out in the upcoming years even if you fail to qualify the PT this year. Thereby, up fold your sleeves, focus on our priorities and start rolling. In our lives we should never be bothered much about the results, rather it should be the effort that we put in, is what we should live and die for- for satisfaction and achievements are directly proportional to our Karmas.

Post your comments and questions below. Long live UPSC! All the very best for Mains!



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